The other day the House Transporation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing on PPPs,using the Indiana Toll Road as an example. Guess what! The tide is TURNING against PPPs running our infrastructure.
Congressional Democrats are strongly discouraging states from entering the kind of public-private partnerships that led to the lease of the Indiana Toll Road by a foreign consortium,
Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn. and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has warned states that the committee will try to undo any agreements "that do not fully protect the public interest and the integrity of the national system."
The committee said that could happen when Congress rewrites federal transportation programs and policies, which are funded through 2009.
"We have become increasingly concerned with a new type of agreement that was approved for projects in Chicago and Indiana," Oberstar wrote in a May 10 letter to governors, state legislators and state transportation officials. The letter also was signed by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who heads the panel's highways and transit subcommittee.
We all need, in Texas, to call up Oberstar and DeFazio and remind them about the Trans Texas Corridor project.
The pair said the deals "make good business sense to the companies that are investing in the projects" but may favor "parochial and private interests" and undermine the integrity of the national transportation system.
Apparently the committee doesn't like it that the Bush Administration's Transportation Committee is promoting these deals at a federal level. I agree.
Oberstar and DeFazio said the committee issued its warning because of increased involvement by private companies in state transportation projects and because the Bush administration is promoting such deals.
The congressmen said the Transportation Department is "strongly encouraging" states to adopt legislation to allow for public-private partnerships and has created "model legislation" states can use.
Landline Magazine (for truckers) characerizes this meeting as the shot fired across the bow of PPPs.
The push toward public-private partnerships by the Bush administration received a warning shot from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently.
A letter sent to governors, state legislators and state transportation officials point-blank told those state leaders that if the public interest is not protected, privatization arrangements will be taken to task in future appropriations legislation.
The letter also cautions that while the Bush administration has “lauded” these arrangements, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee believes public interest is often left on the sidelines.
“The committee will work to undo any state PPP agreements that do not fully protect the public interest and the integrity of the national system,” the letter stated.
It’s not an empty threat either. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is already working on the reauthorization of highway funding set to expire on Oct. 1, 2009.
“If the highway was constructed with federal funds and if federal funds are going to be involved in any maintenance, improvements or expansion of the highway involved in public-private partnerships, Congress is going to want a say in that,” said Jim Berard, director of communications for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
That involvement could happen sooner rather than later. The letter advised state leaders that the committee could take action against some partnerships in the next highway funding bill.
Again, call them up and REMIND them about the TTC. Maybe, if Texas under Perry doesn't give a hoot about the public, Congress will stop them.